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Categories for the Working Mathematician (Graduate Texts in Mathematics) Hardcover – September 25, 1998

ISBN-13: 978-0387984032 ISBN-10: 0387984038 Edition: 2nd

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Product Details

  • Series: Graduate Texts in Mathematics (Book 5)
  • Hardcover: 317 pages
  • Publisher: Springer; 2nd edition (September 25, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0387984038
  • ISBN-13: 978-0387984032
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.3 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #617,760 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

From the reviews of the second edition:

“The book under review is an introduction to the theory of categories which, as the title suggests, is addressed to the (no-nonsense) working mathematician, thus presenting the ideas and concepts of Category Theory in a broad context of mainstream examples (primarily from algebra). … the book remains an authoritative source on the foundations of the theory and an accessible first introduction to categories. … It is very well-written, with plenty of interesting discussions and stimulating exercises.” (Ittay Weiss, MAA Reviews, July, 2014)

Second Edition

S.M. Lane

Categories for the Working Mathematician

"A very useful introduction to category theory."—INTERNATIONALE MATHEMATISCHE NACHRICHTEN


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Customer Reviews

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If you're up to the challenge, you might even enjoy it.
J. Wiley
Eilenberg and Mac Lane created category theory and this book is alive with the very style of thought Mac Lane brought to it in the first place.
Colin McLarty
If you're a mathematician, you've already read this book.
Foo Bar

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

51 of 53 people found the following review helpful By Colin McLarty on September 24, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This book is a classic. Clearly written, drawing on a vast number of different applications and motivations for the subject. Eilenberg and Mac Lane created category theory and this book is alive with the very style of thought Mac Lane brought to it in the first place. It is obvious that Mac Lane wrote each page, and each exercise, with a view of the whole book in mind. He starts with the very basics, assuming indeed that you know nothing of category theory. He goes on to adjunctions, limits, the adjoint functor theorems, monads (triples), monoidal categories, Abelian cateories, Kan extensions, higher dimensional categories, and categorical foundations. It is a masterpiece and one of the great books in mathematics.
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48 of 51 people found the following review helpful By Jason Schorn on July 2, 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Well, let us think about this a little bit...You want to learn Category theory, whether for some course or just for the fun of it, and now where do you turn in order to learn the necessary concepts. If you are a mathematician and have some experience, then you turn to the masters, the originators of the given subject and read their work. Sure, being the founder of a given subject does not imply that you are a good expositor and hence are capable of revealing the necessary concepts for the beginner-allow me to inform that Mac Lane is indeed as good as an expositor as he was a mathematician. For any doubters, I point you to the only other text you should read on Category theory, namely, "Category Theory" by Horst Herrlich and compare this text with Mac Lane's. Aside from that, and with respect to the text, for most beginners or interested readers I would suggest the following outline: Read 1.1-6; 2.1-3 & 8 possibly 2.4; all of 3; as for 4 skip section 3; 5.1-5; all of 8. Then, dependent upon your desires and or focus as well as your mathematical ability, it should become obvious which of the remaining topics should be read. Finally, the only other source I would recommend for learning Category theory can be found on-line using the keyword 'Awodey'. Anyways, Enjoy and good luck.
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39 of 44 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 22, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This book is extraordinarily well written. It covers the necessary topics in a concise, orderly manner. HOWEVER, it presumes a substantial amount of knowledges concerning various algebraic/abstract structures in the field of mathematics. If you already have had experience with such structures, and are simply looking to understand them from a different perspective - this is the book for you. However, if you have limited knowledge with regards to advanced math (ie - grad level math) then try the book 'Arrows, Structures and Functors: The Categorical Imperative' by Manes and Arbib. This introduces the reader gradually to simple algebraic structures, monoids, groups, metric spaces, topological spaces, and the categories that can be built around them.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By J. Wiley on January 4, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Have you ever tried reading Descartes' "Geometry"? It's not a good place to learn about coordinate geometry. I tried. This was almost 10 years ago, but I still remember it pretty well. Ok, so maybe the experience was even a bit traumatic.

Usually when someone works out a theory, it takes a fresh perspective (or two, or ... you get it) to really digest it, and come up with a reasonable way of teaching it to newcomers. It's less evident nowadays, with improved communications technology and such, but people aren't exactly turning to Grothendieck's expositions as their intro to his geometry either. Mac Lane is an exception.

This book seems completely inapproachable. The title is scary. The topic is scary. Open to a random page and try to judge its accessibility: scary. Well, here's the real story: you need to know algebra through modules, and it'd be nice if this algebra background introduced "universals" like abelianization or free modules in a way that involved the diagrams and the unique mappings you get from the given ones. If this stuff makes any sense, you can read this book. It's not that scary. If you're up to the challenge, you might even enjoy it. This is actually my favorite book.

Here's the approach that I feel worked well for me:

- gloss over the set-theoretic foundations at first. Make sure you know the proper class/set and large/small category distinctions, but don't dwell on them much.

- focus on the examples that are familiar, but read through the others too. Mac Lane uses tons of examples to suit a variety of backgrounds, and his presentation is so clear that the theory can often explain the examples.

- trust the author. It may seem like product or comma categories deserve fuller treatment with more motivation. No.
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13 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Pietro Braione on August 12, 2003
Format: Hardcover
It is difficult to make understand what "is" category theory. Is it a foundational discipline? Is it a discipline studying homomorphisms between algebras? Is it nonsense? Well, in my opinion this book does not help in gaining this kind of understanding. But all the stuff I read which have been written with that purpose in mind did not have any success - perhaps because I am not a mathematician, or perhaps because some concepts in category theory are really too abstract for anyone to give "an intuition" of them (you still can with functors and natural transformations, but try with adjointness...). This said, I found the book wonderful: Every concept is presented neatly. I use it as a reference each time I want a clear and rigorous definition of a concept. Sometimes this rigour helped me in gaining the famous intuition behind the concept.
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